Roof Training Groups Under Threat

HEAD OF THE Construction Industry Training Board, Sarah Beale, has issued an update which launched an industry-wide consultation on funding to construction training groups.

The consultation, called ‘Supporting Training Groups – Industry wide consultation’ proposes changes with the aim of improving value for money by reducing funding and increasing training uptake.

The consultation relates to construction training groups across the whole industry, not just the roofing sector. CITB refers to specialist training groups, which includes roofing along with other specialist sectors.

CITB Proposals

The first option proposes cutting the number of specialist training groups from the current 31, to 4. It is not clear whether one or more of the four remaining groups would be for the roofing sector.

The second proposal is to replace training groups with Virtual Hubs consisting of training providers set up by CITB. The Hubs would offer the 20 most accessed training standards courses. Again, it is not clear whether some of these courses would offer the training needed by roofing companies.

The third proposal is a mixture of the first two – but does not mention any specialist (roofing) training provision and proposes providing courses for just 10 construction standards.

Threat to roof training

The newly formed National Roof Training Group (NRTG), a coalition of 8 of the UK’s 10 roof training groups, has responded to the proposals.

The NRTG says the CITB proposals are based on inaccurate figures and ignore the many other activities roof training groups undertake to promote roofing as a career and promote roofing safety and training.

These additional activities include delivering 3,000 e-learning courses to more than 1,000 roofers; delivering training to contribute to RoofCERT accreditation; recruiting and delivering Training the Trainer (and assessor) courses; promoting roofing careers in schools, events and exhibitions; and vital specialist training consultation work with the UK’s roofing federations.

The NRTG says, “Statistics have been provided by CITB to groups, be it that in some cases, these are cited incorrectly by CITB, and relate only to the number of member companies active with training over six months (including lockdown periods) and not to the general support and the many other activities we offered on a daily basis.  The figure of £28,000 quoted in the consultation document as being ‘to pay for a group training officer’ is a payment for administration and to support the group. It covers meetings, promotions, insurance, travel costs, charges and storage. It’s also worth noting that groups have already suffered reductions of up to 60% of this figure for the six month period quoted.

“Roof training groups, have in the past days, provided key information and an alternative proposal to CITB which, if agreed, would support the retention of all roof training groups across the UK.”

Alternative proposal for roofing training

The roofing training groups have put an alternative proposal to CITB that would ensure the continuation of roofing specific training and a safe, high-quality roofing sector.

The NRTG is asking for its current proportion of funding – 14% of the national total – based on the average number of active members per annum, over 3 years. These, it says, are fairer, more representative figures than CITB’s, which are based only on the last six months during which there has been the pandemic and lockdowns.

The NRTG would then allocate funds for roofing training in consultation with other industry bodies in order to get the best value from the local and regional specialist roofing training providers.

Support Roofing Training Groups

The NRTG is asking their roofing company members – almost 600 roofing contractor companies – to support their group’s activities by replying positively to the consultation.

The multiple choice CITB questionnaire allows responses to just seven questions.

However, there is space for individual views on CITB’s proposals and the roof training groups are urging roofing companies to visit the link and use the comments sections to stress support for the roofing training groups.

Responses can be made until 31 December 2020.

Industry comments

James Talman CEO NFRC

James Talman, CEO of the National Federation of Roofing Contractors comments, “We understand the financial constraints that the CITB is under, but they must carefully consider the impact on training of any cuts that are made. Funding should be targeted as much as possible on core skills training, that will help our industry meet the challenges it will be facing over the years ahead, such as building safety and reaching net-zero.

“We will be consulting with our membership on the proposals set out in the consultation over the coming weeks, and we encourage roofing contractors to let us know any feedback they have.”

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